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The Black Dog

Time to get this off my chest. This will take two posts, one today and one tomorrow.

You know you are depressed if you are experiencing all of the following:

Increase in tension
Wanting to cry for no reason
Inability to concentrate
Very itchy eyes, even though you have no known allergies
Zero sex drive
Dizziness
Severe increase in irritability
Feeling someone is always watching you
Feeling someone is laughing at you every time you hear someone whispering or laughing
Each little noise completely distracts you and affects your focus
Cannot stand any human being
Fatigue

I experience several of them on a regular basis, but I carry on, on the basis that some depression is a natural part of life. I could be drugged out of my mind and probably solve many of the problems, but I’d rather not. Some of them may just be symptoms of mild anxiety and not full blown depression. Anxiety can actually be constructive, from my experience.

The worst symptom of all is the fear of dying. I’ve suffered from depression for years, and I’ve had my share of moments where I contemplated suicide, but this is different. It actually feels like you are about to die. It’s the worst feeling in the world, and it stays with you for days, and nothing I do seems to help. I usually just wait, trying constantly to convince myself the world isn’t falling apart, then I’m OK again.

A few years ago I had persistent panic attacks on top of depression during which I had the (completely imaginary) feeling that I was going to suffer a heart failure instantly. After proper medication, I was cured, but it took time and those moments were truly awful.

Though I have been known to live my life like Max von Sydow in Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf, I always try to anchor my depression in something concrete: bad weather, government lies, lack of CD money.

More on this tomorrow.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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